As a first-tier city in the world, Shanghai is quite modernized, but the city also incorporates the elements of the histories such as the Old French Concession, the Bund and the Temple of the Town God, and you can still have some historical senses when you choose to live in an apartment in the French Concession. I believe these areas will get you feel more of the old Shanghai.
he Shanghai French Concession was one of the two concessions in Shanghai (the other one is Shanghai International Settlement), which was mainly located in Luwan District (now merged into Huangpu District) and Xuhui District in Shanghai, with its eastern strip extending into today’s Huangpu District.
The Shanghai French Concession mostly boasted foreign cultures with the combination of the foreign expatriates and local Chinese residents, which created a peculiar living environment.
“Shanghai Science Hall” which is on Nanchang Road used to be early “French Stadium Association” in the French Concession.
“Shanghai Arts Plaza” which is on South Shaanxi Road was originally a private garden owned by the British businessman named Maris and later became the famous “Yiyuan” dog runs, a place from which was also the main source of revenue in the French Concession.
“Luwan Stadium” which is on Zhaojiabang Road was the Central Stadium during the French Concession period and originally a Basque Pelota gambling court.
Five famous parks in the French Concession: Verdun Park (at the junction of Middle Huaihai Road and South Maoming Road); Petain Park (now Hengshan Park); Doumer Garden (now Xiangyang Park); Baochang Park (at the junction of Middle Huaihai Road, West Fuxing Road and Wulumuqi Road). Nowadays, these parks and gardens are still major spots of recreations for the nearby residents.
The small three-floor house on South Shaanxi Road near the intersection with Shaoxing Road used to be the office of Chinese Society of Science which was founded by a group of Chinese students who had studied in the United States. Now the place is Mingfu Library, serving the public.
Ruijin Hospital which is on Ruijin Road was originally named “Santa Maria Hospital”. At the beginning of the twentieth century, a French Chinese named Yao Zongli, who came to Shanghai French Concession as a missionary, suggested that a hospital founded by the church should be established on Route Pere Robert (now Ruijin No. 2 Road) in the French Concession, which was also a teaching facility for Aurora University.
The “Red House” western restaurant on Middle Huaihai Road boasted one of the famous dishes, “Baked Clam” for quite a time although it was a small restaurant. Since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, many Chinese and foreign politician and leaders have been to the restaurant for its delicious dishes.
“Lyceum Theatre” which is on the junction of Changle Road and South Maoming Road has been through three times of reconstruction and was designed by the architects, Davis and Proko, and praised as a pearl in the Far East theatre buildings.
The “Big World” was the most stylish and beautiful large-scale playground in the French Concession, which was founded by Huang Chujiu, a man born in a family of Chinese medicine who set foot in different businesses after having started his career in the Chinese medicine. This playground was built with the support of the French Consular in Shanghai, later became a well-known landmark in Shanghai.
Many of the buildings in the French Concession were demolished by the relocation and renovation of the city modernization. Many of the landmarks have become the memories in heart of old Shanghai residents. We can only imagine the infinite prosperities through the old photos.
The French Concession now is a brand new trendy neighborhood coming from its historical past with rows of sycamores showing the senses of retro. To feel the freshness by walking on the shady paths along with the historical cultures is the reason why many of the foreign friends choose to live in these areas.
Although the trade in the French Concession was not as prosperous as in the International Settlement, the French Concession did have a place to contend in the retail commerce. In the early French Concession period, because the French Concession was closer to Shanghai’s Old City area where most of the Chinese population resided, and a large number of Chinese residents had settled in the French Concession long before, it had the larger number of consumers. After the first World War, the French Concession attracted many European and American expatriates and mid & upper-class Chinese due to its fine infrastructures and environments to possess the basis for developing into a prosperous commercial area.
The retail businesses in the old French Concession are located along the streets:
1.Rue Du Consulat
The road passed through the early French Concession from west to east in the nineteenth century as a major commercial street in the French Concession at the time. The French Concession authority required the construction of the arcades on both sides of the road, making it the only arcaded road in Shanghai.
The avenue passed through the area newly expanded in the early twentieth century in the French Concession from west to east. The east and middle section of this avenue came to prosperity in the 1920s and 1930s, later becoming a famous commercial street second only to Nanjing Road. To the east of Avenue Dubail (South Chongqing Road) are mostly the stores and shops opened by Chinese; From Avenue Dubail to Avenue du Roialbert (South Shaanxi Road) are mostly the store and shops opened by Belarusians, featuring clothes and garments, bakeries and cafes.
After all the introductions above, it is time for us to recommend some of the best routes for those who want to have the deep French Concession experiences. Therefore, we hope the following recommended detailed routes will be quite helpful for you.
If you have plenty of time, we recommend you starting from Xintiandi, stroll west along Fuxing Road, and there are Sinan Mansion and Fuxing Park across the South Chongqing Road North-South Elevated Road, both of which are surely worth a visit.
The villas in Sinan Mansion area are rich in form and you can also visit “Zhou’s Mansion” which is a historical building. There are Dapuqiao and Tianzifang to the south, which are cultural with some change from the time. To the west are Shaoxing Road and Ruijin Hotel area. We highly recommend you doing some homework before visiting the above areas.
Fuxing Park is near the Former Residence of Sun Yat-sen and the Orthodox Church on Langao Road along with Yangdang Road and the Science Hall. When you finish your visit there, you may go to South Shaanxi Road along Nanchang Road or Middle Huaihai Road, which is the center of this area. The transportation there is also very convenient. The neighboring Changle Road and Julu Road are both very beautiful areas with dense historical buildings. The famous Mahler's Villa is next to the junction of Julu Road and South Shaanxi Road. We also have Jinxian Road which is well-known for the restaurants serving delicious food on it.
People may visit the Ruijin Hotel area by going from South Shaanxi Road to South Xiangyang Road or Fenyang Road, as well as Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Fenyang Garden and Yongkang Road, which is filled with expats, halfway to the Ruijin Hotel area. However, the main place of interest is still around Fenyang Road and Taiyuan Road. The “Little White House”, where Shanghai Museum of Arts and Crafts is located, now is a popular wedding venue, known as the “White Mansion”. The Pushkin Statue and the Peace Mansion around the junction of the roads are both worth a visit
This intersection connects Fengyang Road, Yueyang Road, Dongping Road and Taojiang Road, all of which are historical blocks containing luxurious mansions and villas. The “Love House” of Chiang Kai-shek and Soong Mei-ling where they were married is on Dongping Road, inside the Middle School affiliated to Shanghai Conservatory of Music.
The US Consulate General in Shanghai is just around the junction of Wulumuqi Road and Hengshan Road. The well-known Shanghai Community Church is also on Hengshan Road which leads to Xujiahui area. Along this road, there are also Tianping Road, Kangping Road, Gao’an Road and other small roads nearby, where people can see the Shanghai Library and the Former Residence of Soong Ching Ling. Shanghai Jiaotong University, the Catholic Church and the Tomb of Xu Guangqi are around Xujiahui and Hushan Road area.
People can also visit Wukang Road by going from Jiaotong University to the north. Wukang Road has great environment and many historical buildings, such as Wukang Building, etc. If you still think you have not got enough from the trip, you may continue north along Huashan Road, passing by Shanghai Theatre Academy, all the way to Jing’an Temple.
In addition to the above sights in the French Concession, one of the most important things is the combination of the new and old food. If you are a gourmet, we strongly recommend a trip to Changle Road, which has more than just a little treats and tastes.
If you are a coffee lover, drinking alone, this café, “Saturday Afternoon”, is definitely a treat for you.
If you want some noodle, with some fine cuisine, we recommend: Wanzang Qiaomai Restaurant, which is an Izakaya (Japanese Restaurant & Bar), featuring buckwheat noodles. Wanzang is one of the rare good buckwheat noodle restaurants with good cost-taste in Shanghai! Their buckwheat noodles have the most original taste with minimum use of seasoning. The best dish we consider is the Warm Buckwheat Noodle with Mashed Chinese Yam. Adding some Nanami (Japanese spice) to the thick mashed Chinese yam, then enjoying the noodles would be a special treat than you will never forget.
If you want some Chinese mutton dishes, we recommend this restaurant: Nantingjiao Mutton Hotpot. This restaurant is in a narrow alley with unexpectedly good business. Of course, there is a reason for the good business, which is its best dish, the mutton hotpot in a light soup. For those who want a strong taste, the lamb spine hotpot is a good choice. Their mutton does not have the strong goat odor, in a quite reasonable price with good cost-taste. Their vegetable is healthily and freshly cooked.
Of course, this street is a fusion of too many food elements, such as PHOCO, Café Fay, Miss Zhao doesn’t wait, from Vietnamese to Chinese, with different kinds of cuisines, which will definitely meet your needs for the delicious food.
Shanghai has thousands of styles, and the French Concession is definitely one of them. Whether it is the smell of the coffee, or the retro of the puff pastry, even the one-fits-all Hainan chicken rice.
After reading the above texts and pictures introduction, do you want to feel the French Concession for yourself? If you think it is a very good idea to live in the French Concession, living in an old house, a serviced apartment or a neighborhood would definitely make you feel the history while living a modern life.
Top Apartments in the Shanghai French Concession:
Palace Court which Completed in 1997is a well-known 32-storey residential building offering spacious and well-designed apartment units. Residents enjoy spacious living rooms with large windows and nice balconies. Apartments are situated on the upper floors providing great views over the city skyline. The view at night of the city lights is magnificent. Just a few minutes walk to shops, dining, and cafes. Bathrooms have nice tiles. Living rooms are large. Furnishings of each unit are modern and new. Rooms and kitchen are bright with nice layouts.
2. Chevalier Place
Chevalier Place is a 33-storey grand building that stands out at the junction of Jingan and Xuhui Districts. A spacious two-storey atrium connects the three blocks of apartments and a private clubhouse. All three towers offer 113 luxurious apartments (including 6 duplexes), fully furnished and professionally designed with spacious floor plans and high ceilings. This housing project has an excellent location with convenient access to many parts of the city.
3. Joffre Garden
Joffre Garden is a big apartment complex consisting of three high-rise buildings, beautiful inside garden. These modern apartment buildings are nicely designed with large windows ensuring the ample light. All the units belong to individual landlords, so wide variety of decorating and furnishing styles are available. With simple onsite facilities and big garden, it offers great comfort and convenience to its residents. Steps away from various dining, bars, cafes, shopping, specialty stores, offices, salons, spas, and gyms.
4. Ambassy Court
Ambassy Court consists of three residential towers amidst tree-lined boulevards in the former French Concession and was completed in 2001. The middle tower offers 105 fully-serviced apartments and a professional management team provides housekeeping services twice-weekly. Walking distance to Shanghai Library, cafes, 10 minutes walk to subway station. Service management is professional and speaks English. Area is secure and friendly. Rooms are furnished with western style and Chinese elements.